In 2010, representatives from 194 countries met in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and agreed on 20 biodiversity targets to reach in the next decade. Ten years later, the signatories have fallen far short. A new UN report details progress made on what are called the Aichi biodiversity targets. Overall, zero of the targets have been completely fulfilled. The 20 targets are further broken down into 60 elements. Of these, seven have been achieved. Thirty-eight show progress.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

As the U.S. in 2020 is faced with record-setting wildfires in the west and an unprecedented hurricane season in the southeast and the entire world reels from a pandemic and a year of heightened racial tension, the targets seem heartbreakingly idealistic. For example, “By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, Indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.” If only. Nor have we managed By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.”

Related: Naturalis Biodiversity Center reopens with a sustainable, future-proof renovation

Progress looks modest when faced with the 20 ambitious targets. Global deforestation rates have decreased by about one-third, but they remain high. Some regions have curbed overfishing, but overall things are worse for marine creatures. Perhaps our best accomplishment is saving 48 species from extinction.

“Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the UN’s head of biodiversity, as reported on “And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity.”

Members of the Convention on Biological Diversity are currently working on targets for the 2020s. This decade’s agenda has been delayed by COVID-19, but members expect to finalize goals in May 2021. One target under negotiation: a proposal to protect 30% of Earth.

+ Global Biodiversity Outlook 5


Image via Wendy Cover/NOAA